Real Talk: Midlife By Design

Ep. 22 | The C-word No One Wants to Discuss with Holly Bowen, FNTP, RWP

December 28, 2021 Ericka, Curator of Zest / Holly Bowen, FNTP Season 1 Episode 22
Real Talk: Midlife By Design
Ep. 22 | The C-word No One Wants to Discuss with Holly Bowen, FNTP, RWP
Show Notes Transcript

I'm grateful to have today's guest on as she has supported me through such a personal journey with my digestion. Yup, the C- word!!!

Constipation was becoming part of my day to day, along with it's negative- physical impacts.

After working with Holly I'm happy to say it's no longer an issue, so I think it's only right to share her knowledge with you all today!

Holly Bowen is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Restorative Wellness Practitioner.

She helps women heal their gut while teaching them to eat real food. So they can say goodbye to their digestive symptoms, balance hormones and get their energy back.

Stay connected with Holly  and find out more about her work with the quick, access links below:



We're inspired to become the #1 Resource for Midlife Women. Go get access to articles, expert insights and more at  The Zestful Movement

Ericka  00:04

Midlife. What does it mean to you? I believe that midlife is a place to recognize, reprioritize and redefine your purpose. It's a place of new beginnings, new personal growth and new adventures. Midlife is a chance to release your outdated labels and begin designing your second like journey. How? With heart centered experts, tangible tools and a supportive community. Why? Because if not now, then when? Now that's real talk. I am Ericka, your host and Curator of Zest. Let's begin building our Midlife by Design together. If you're enjoying this content, please follow and share this podcast with someone you care about too, as it truly helps to keep that zesty energy flowing and visit where you'll find more resources cultivated for your midlife journey on health, relationships and more. 


Ericka  1:02


Holly Bowen is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and restorative wellness practitioner. She helps women heal their gut while teaching them to eat real food, so they can say goodbye to their digestive symptoms, balance hormones and get their energy back.  


Ericka  1:21


I am so grateful to have today's guest on she has supported me through such a personal journey with my digestion. Yes, constipation was becoming part of my day to day along with its negative physical impacts. After working with her, I'm happy to say it's no longer an issue. So I think it's only right to share her knowledge with you all today too. Holly, welcome to Midlife by Design.


Holly  01:47

Thank you so much for having me, Ericka.


Ericka  01:51

I am glad that you're here. And we're just going to get into the nitty gritty as I throw it in there. I said constipation so like, if you're having, I don't know breakfast lunch snack, maybe this isn't the best one to tune into just yet. But I definitely would welcome them to come back, because there's gonna be some good stuff here. So Holly, I think it's just important that you share your story, because I feel like it ties into what it is you do today.


Holly  02:15

Yeah, so I just growing up, I always was someone who had very low energy. I was similar to you, I was in and out of the ER and even elementary school, middle school, high school dealing with constipation. It would get so bad for the hospital. And you know, you don't really think anything of it when you're younger. And then I just had some more weird symptoms that kind of came with that. And eventually I was diagnosed with MS as I graduated college. And that, I mean, that was really hard. But it's also a blessing in disguise for me because it really sparked my interest in this field of holistic wellness and using food as medicine to really heal your body. And I 100 percent honestly say that I am at a point where I've never felt better in my life. And I can give us all through diet and lifestyle changes. That came with a devastating diagnosis. But it taught me how to treat my body well. And it just gave me those tools to feel good again. And I don't think without that diagnosis that would have ever have happened to me. So then I started exploring a career change. And I enrolled in The Nutritional Therapy Association and became a functional nutritionist. And that's where I'm at now.


Ericka  03:38

Well, for me, I'm grateful that you did and also in listening to your story. One thing that sticks out to me is like constipation. How do we decide one that's normal? And then the fact that you have had all that you do have MS. And that with both of those things, you were able to essentially make your body strong, fortified and functioning well simply through diet, new awareness and just honoring our systems. So for me that's like, it's hopeful, right? It gives people the opportunity to take back their power, so they can feel good in their bodies, no matter what the circumstance may be. But back to constipation. Like you said, you thought that was normal. I know that I also thought well, that's just the way my system works. You know, what is normal? When it comes to constipation? What should people kind of look out for is like a red flag, I guess.


Holly  04:28

Yeah. So you should ideally be going to the bathroom anywhere from one to three times a day. And we are taught that our symptoms that we have are normal and we've been we've been told that our whole life, but in all reality all these symptoms are not normal. They've just been so normalized by just the world around us that we don't think anything of them, but they really should be speaking to us as like our symptoms are a way of our body communicating with us that something's off and that it needs help and attention. So I kinda view like our symptoms as a positive because we know that we need to give back to our body and start paying attention to it and feeling it the right way. Versus if we didn't have that communication system, we really wouldn't know. 


Ericka  05:13



Holly  05:14

Are really a problem. So these little symptoms are just our body's way of kind of softly screaming for help. And letting us know that we need to change something up.


Ericka  05:24

So what do we do? So one, if it's if it's touted as like normal, and it's okay to have these symptoms, when do you think people should really start noticing them? Because I know if we're just having little symptoms, or like, oh, well, then we'll go ahead and we'll do fiber pills, or we'll go ahead and do a chewable or something like that to support the situation. But how do we know that? Like, the little symptoms, how do we know like when it's time to really pay attention to them, remove the band aid approach and get really to the essence of what's happening within our system? 


Holly  05:54

Yeah, so I mean, if you're ever resorting to the point where you need to take a fiber pill, or take any type of over the counter medication to help yourself go to the bathroom, or if you're ever experiencing chronic bloat or heartburn, like skin issues, or even if you have like a weird, like mental health system, or not system mental health symptom, Things are our gut communicating to us that something's off. So if you find yourself reaching for any type of over the counter medication to use as a band aid for the symptoms, that's your body telling, like beginning to tell you that you need to make some changes. And I always encourage people to start when it is small. Don't let it get to a really big problem. Because once the once you wait to the point that it becomes a really big problem, there's so much more work to be done. And you have to kind of control and backtrack through the damage at that point. Versus if you know something's off and you can catch it right away, then you can tweak a few things and not let it become a problem.


Ericka  07:07

I understand that. So when someone's so what they say, alright, I'm not paying attention to the symptoms, I am constantly taking the fiber pills or whatever supportive aid they're using to move through discomfort, and then it becomes a more major thing. What is the benefit for someone working with you say, a functional nutritional therapist versus going to their primary care doctor? So I mean, what's the I know I have my personal story, but I would like to hear from you. Like, why should someone look towards doing something more natural versus just going right into the medical office and then dealing with whatever you know their prescription is that they might you may give it give a patient? Absolutely. So I never want to discredit, something that a doctor can give you because it's very different than what I can give someone. However, when you go into a doctor's office, they're not teaching, they don't, their time with you is very, very limited. They don't have the time to be able to teach you that you need to eat this way like X, Y and Z for all of your symptom management. They're not addressing the root cause. For instance, if you go and see them, and you're constipated, they might send you to a gastroenterologist. And you might have to have some type of a scope done and see if you have something like they might diagnose you with like irritable bowel disease or something like that. Or if they don't think it's that advanced, or that much of a problem, they might just put you on some type of over-the-counter constipation medicine. However, they're not getting to the root of why you're having patient in the first place. And that root can cause so many different problems not addressed at the root cause level versus if you're just covering it up with band aid solutions constantly. That totally makes sense to me. I mean, and that's one of the reasons why I began working with you is because I just felt like we were finding ways to get things to move through. But I was continuing to have constipation. So I did not want that to be a lifestyle because, like you said, the bloating and the sluggishness and the discomfort and all the other things was coming with it too. So I really think it's best for people to really get to what's happening. And when I was working with you, I mean, there are a few things that you said to me that I thought were a little, like eyebrow raising, if you will, because I was just like, really, that's a solution. So what would you say are like three accessible tips that you've shared with your clients that make them raise their eyebrows and kind of question like really, that's going to be helpful?


Holly  09:38

Um, like things that you wouldn't think that would be helpful.


Ericka  09:41

Yeah exactly.


Holly  09:45

One is that a lot of I see this so much with women's so many women, they under eat. And that's a huge problem with your digestion and people want to think that that's a problem. Because when you feel like bloated and constipated, eating more things doesn't necessarily sound good, right? Women are so accustomed to like diet culture, and that's been ingrained in their brain. So their entire life, that they go their entire life eating like 1200 calories a day, and it's such a low amount, they're not giving their body the nutrients that it needs in order to make the digestive juices to break down foods. So pain is a huge problem, especially when it comes to bioavailable protein. And when I say, bioavailable protein, I mean, easy to digest protein. So that's going to be things like a eggs and high quality meats, bone broth, things that your body recognizes and can break down and doesn't have to convert. So things like vegetable proteins are really hard for our body to break down and then it has to be converted. And then we're not fully absorbing it to its full potential. So that's one thing that a lot of people are a little bit hesitant is getting them to eat more. Another thing that I think really ties into your listeners that I think people will be like, that's really interesting. Because it ties into hormonal imbalances and menopause. Eating a raw carrot every day. And that is because raw carrots will bind to the bad gut bugs in your gut and prevent them from reabsorbing, it's also going to bind to excess estrogen and help eliminate that estrogen is designed to be eliminated every day through or yeah, every day through our waist. So when we're not going to the bathroom every day, that ends up getting re circulated. And that contributes to a lot of hormonal imbalances. So adding in that raw carrot every day, it acts as like a binder. So those things aren't reabsorbed into our body.


Ericka  11:58

Holly, when we're having those hormonal imbalances, what are some of the things that we may recognize as symptoms. So things like hot flashes, or not being able to sleep at night, hormonal weight gain. Hum, those are the big ones that really stick out to me. I don't know if you have any other things to add. But I would say even like changes in your skin to like I see with a lot of women who are going through like menopause or pre menopause, really dry cracked skin. That can also another sign of hormonal imbalances. Yeah, those are kind of hallmark ones that come to the top of my head right now. I don't want you think about that. That's pretty powerful. So essentially, we do not want recycled estrogen in our system, because that's going to heighten up those issues with menopause that were that are common to us. And which comes back to why it's so important that we go to the bathroom on a regular basis. Because if we're constipated, well, all of that cycling over and over again. And if you don't know about the carrot, we're not even doing anything to help us reabsorb it. So that's pretty powerful. That's very powerful. And a simple thing that anyone could do.


Holly  13:18

Yeah, absolutely.


Ericka  13:21

So what would be a third one, I kind of cut you off because I got excited about the carrot, apologies. Another one that I think people raise their eyebrows to and they're kind of like a little bit hesitant when I talk to them about dietary changes, is I focus a lot on adding really beneficial things in rather than trying to eliminate all the things I want to make sure you're getting as much nutrients as possible. So I always have, I mean, not always everybody's very bio individual, but a lot of times I will have my clients incorporate organ meats. So things like beef liver or multi organs like like heart, any type of organ meat that we would traditionally like in our modern well in our modern diet throw away from the animal, I incorporate those because they are so much more nutrient dense than muscle meats. So things like a chicken breast or a steak, and we're missing out on all those nutrients and those nutrients are key in support. Which we really need that to properly digest our food. That's also really supportive of our thyroid to make sure our digestion is working optimally. So when our thyroid becomes sluggish, digestion becomes sluggish. So I really like to support the thyroid too. And organ meats is a great way to do that and a lot of people don't hear that a lot. So they're very hesitant. So a lot of times I'll start desiccated beef liver capsules so you don't have to taste it. But I always tell them how they can start incorporating organ meats, if they're ready to move forward from the capsules as well. Yeah, because like the carrot seems very like, okay, carrot, no big deal, I can get that in.  But then like, organs sounds a little like, ooh, unless you grew up on that I guess, that sounds a little exotic. And it's like, Oh, thank god, there's capsules to begin with that. So that really is a powerful thing. So it sounds like some of the easy things women can do is simply eat more, make sure they're having good protein, adding in a raw carrot, and then also seeing how they can add in animal organs from like heart and liver to kind of help support the process. And that's really amazing to me, too, that like our gut, like we think of eating because, well, I'm hungry, and I'm going to eat and you kind of go on about your day. But you don't really think about the environment of your gut and how it really supports so many other things from your thyroid, to how you go through menopause, and how it really manages all of the hormones in your body. So that's actually really powerful. And why we should, in my opinion, not just take that bandaid approach, but really get down to what's happening so that our tummy can be as healthy as it can be and support all of those symptoms and systems.  Absolutely. And then I do have a note one other key point that I do want to make sure I let your listeners know before we kind of go finished with steps that they can take. But another really big powerful thing is paying attention to your consumption of processed industrial seed and vegetable oils. So that's going like canola oil, soybean oil, sunflower, safflower oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, any type of those oils are going to create chronic inflammation in your in your body. And they lead to digestive dysfunction. I see all the time. And really paying attention to your ingredient labels and making sure those oils are out of your diet and also understanding that most restaurants cooking those oils, so... You know I love to dine out and so now I'm a little hesitant, so I totally get that too. Yeah, so not saying that you can never eat at a restaurant again. But being more mindful of that and just being more open to cooking at home more often than going out to eat. Or maybe not running through the drive thru just to make just and just have some emergency meals at home that don't contain those oils. So you don't have to run through the drive thru and stuff like that. Excellent. I mean, that's one of the reasons why my husband love you loves you, because he's like, Oh, eat at home more often fantastic. I'm like, Oh, no. But it's certainly worth it. Because as you brought to my attention, most restaurants cannot use the higher quality oils, like an avocado or an olive oil. So they use the cheaper ones, because it's just I mean, it's cost effective. But if we're eating out a lot, then we're getting a lot of that. That's not necessarily ideal for our gut environment. So that's just one of those things that you don't think about as we just go through the process of life. But they're very simple actions that we can take that can make a profound impact on how we feel in our bodies.


Holly  18:12



Ericka  18:13

So going a little bit deeper into that. So we brought up the topic of menopause with the carrots and how it's powerful to have that for the estrogen. So I mean, how does all of that like what are some other things that can play into that? Because I know in midlife as you kind of hit 40, you start like and I am in menopause? Is this menopause? Is this, like you really don't know. But I think through diet, and what I've learned from you is that we can kind of take some control over our menopause symptoms. And so I was wondering if there was some more things that you'd be willing to share? Maybe stuff that women aren't aware of that they don't hear from their medical doctor that might support them in the process of menopause symptoms. 


Holly  18:54

Yeah, so I think it's really important to know that menopause should be a very graceful transition. It should not be this thing where you're experiencing sleepless nights and hot flashes all the time, and you should not be miserable. You're not meant to feel that way at all. But I feel like menopause is very, like these menopausal symptoms are very normalized. So women just think that they have to deal with it. You don't have to deal with it.  Support you body at a foundational level. So make sure making sure that you are giving your body really nutrient dense foods, eating enough, focusing more on what you can put into and add to your diet versus trying to just simply cut out all the things is really, really important. I think women get so caught up in what they have to cut out and they think like oh, I eat healthy. I don't eat like all of these things, their own list of what they don't eat. Focusing on getting as many nutrients as possible is really going to be key rather than trying to take out everything. So I always tell everyone, we need to focus on nutrients over calories. And if you focus on nutrients, calories don't matter as much, because your body's really smart. And it knows when to like, you'll start to learn and tune into your body. And you'll realize when you've had enough food, and you don't have to really pay attention to calories as much when you're properly nourishing your body.


Ericka  20:27

That is interesting and I think that's liberating, in a sense, right? Because then you can come back to being something that's enjoyable, something that's actually good for us. And that it really supports us overall feeling our best no matter where we are in our phase of menopause, because we're doing all the good things to support and sustain the, the systems that we do have. So I feel like it's nice to be able to take power back when we feel like everything is so much out of control. And I like that you provide that for your clients.


Holly  20:57

Absolutely. And then I think one other thing that women really struggle with is balance  in balance blood sugar.  And tht is really is going to affect your hormonal balance, because it's a stress on the body. When your body is stressed, it eats up nutrients so fast, that your body doesn't have those nutrients left that it needs to make and balance hormones. So making sure this is something that we've worked on, I know a lot, making sure that your plate is always balanced. So always including enough protein, enough healthy fats and enough carbs. So I always tell people don't eat naked carbs. So if you're hungry, and you need a snack, a banana is not a snack or an orange is not a snack.  Like maybe some like plain, full fat Greek yogurt with some berries in it. So there you have your fat, protein and carbs all together. And it's very balanced versus when you just eat even if it's just fruit, which fruit is a healthy thing. But if you eat that by itself, it's instantly going to spike your blood sugar. And that's going to put your body in that state of stress again, and that's going to affect your hormonal balance in the long term.


Ericka  22:07

I mean, like, everything impacts everything. And I know that when I was doing my food journal with you one of the things that I discovered, I'm like, I'm thinking I'm a very healthy eater, I eat very fine, I'm like,this is gonna be so easy for me. And then what I really discovered wise, I didn't eat nearly enough protein. And I and I didn't eat nearly enough fat. And so I found it challenging of how to add fat into my diet. So I thought that was really helpful. And I did notice that once I began adding the fat, and I chose avocado as my main source of fat, that it is your ear like satiable. It's like, it's like, I feel good. Like I'm happy, I'm good. And you don't have like all this snacking and, like just random, bored eating, but you feel good in your body. And I don't eat again until I'm actually hungry. So it's amazing how little tweaks like that can have such a good impact. 


Holly  22:58

Mm hmm. Yeah, nutrition does not have to be complicated. But I feel like in the world that we're in, and all the media that's out there, and I love social media, but social media can make it complicated too.  


Ericka  23:09



Holly  23:10

Like it gets turned into something. That's rocket science. And it doesn't have to be that way. I try to simplify things as much as possible for my clients. And I just want all women to know that it doesn't have to be this very complicated thing, unless you make it that way.


Ericka  23:30

So like, what do you think? So what do you think are some of the main ways like maybe like, let's say you work with a lot of women, you've been in a lot of scenarios, what do you find is like the common theme of where women are making things too complicated for themselves.


Holly  23:43

Yeah, so people, they don't know what to eat. And they think that they have to spend our kitchen, or they have to go grocery shopping every day to eat healthy and they realize that they can't do that. So they just throw in the towel and they think that healthy eating won't work for them. So one really important thing is like yes, if you want to you can get really creative in the kitchen and make fancy meals. I love to do that. But I have a newborn right now. And I've learned I have a good hand like in my back pocket, I can pull out like easily five emergency meals that can be made made within five minutes, that are incredibly nutrient dense. But I have to plan that in advance like I have. Do I have soup in the freezer that I can just easily heat up? Have I prepared or do I have like a rotisserie chicken that I picked up for my protein source and I can pair that with some fruit? Do I have some like plain full fat organic non organic yogurt in the fridge that I can easily just put berries out and just have a good amount of protein that way. So you just have to be creative and thinking of your emergency meals, and then choose when you want to make those fancy dinners if you even want to at all But having those like emergency meals in your back pocket is something that's really, really important to make healthy eating sustainable.


Ericka  25:09

Yeah, I mean, I think that's really powerful. And it's good that you call it an emergency meal because that's kind of what happens, right? We get busy through our day, and then we look up, we're like, Oh, my God, I'm hungry, or it's dinnertime, and there's nothing there. So if you have a plan, and I love that it can be a plan of ease, because I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. So a plan of ease makes more things possible. And it's really about just getting those good combinations that you recommended to make sure the blood sugar stay great, The gut stays healthy. And then everything's moving through the system, the system as it should be. So I mean, that's like doable. And it's so empowering, and it's very accessible. So that's a beautiful thing about the work that you provide with people. Is there anything? Is there anything else you wanted to add Holly, that like we may have left out?


Holly  25:55

Um, I don't think so. I think we covered a lot of ground and the 20, 30 minutes that we chatted.


Ericka  26:04

Yes, I believe so too. But I just I wanted to make sure because yeah, this is good stuff. Like my biggest takeaway is that simply by eating well, that means you can really do two things. You can relieve your constipation symptoms, but you can also support your menopausal symptoms. And so to me, that's like, breath, you know, that's like breathtaking. And it takes a lot of angst out of the whole situation as well. But if women are doing these things that we recommended here on this talk, but they're not quite quite getting the success that they would like to see in their bodies, what's a good way for them to get in contact with you. Learn more about improving their gut health and then working directly with you if need be?


Holly  26:47

Yeah, so my main source of communication right now is that my main platform is my Instagram account, so they can find me on my handle is @hobowellness. So H O B O wellness. And that's my name shortened up into a cute little Instagram handle. I always like to throw it out there because some people don't always make the connection that Holly Bowen is hobo shorter, shortened.


Ericka  27:12

Yeah, I agree. It's very cute. I'm like, Oh, well, this looks so cute.


Holly  27:18

In way that, the easiest way that you can reach out to me, you can sign up for my client waitlist, which I have, in my Instagram bio. There's a little link that you can click and you can just put your name and email. And then once I'm accepting new clients, I'll reach out to you, or you can always feel free to send me a message. So just send me a DM on Instagram. And I get back to all of my messages on there. So I will for sure see that. I am in the process of rebranding my website. So that's under construction right now. So that's why Instagram right now is the best way to contact me. But hopefully my website will be launched fairly soon. By the fall. We will see though, just because when you have a newborn life kind of throws surprises.


Ericka  28:02

Absolutely. We I think most of us can, like relate to you and appreciate that for sure. But I tell you like following you on Instagram is a really great option because not only do they get to be in contact with you, but I think you share a lot of informational things that are very accessible and useful on your Instagram. So that's just a good thing to do anyway, so they can get that information. And then if they need to delve in deeper, they can slide into your DMS. So I think that works out really perfectly. So Holly, I have a one last question for you though. So how would you define zest for yourself in your life?


Holly  28:35

100% I would describe it as living life to the fullest. Not just going through the motions but really enjoying and living life and feeling your best.


Ericka  28:46

Absolutely. And you teach us all how to do that with accessible gut health tips. So thank you. Oh, Holly. Yeah, thank you so much for being here and sharing all of your knowledge. I know that it's going to have a powerful impact on people so really grateful for you taking the time and being here on Midlife by Design.


Holly  29:05

Absolutely. Thank you so much.


Ericka  29:12

I appreciate your presence and holding space for my passion of helping women rediscover the essence of who they are meant to be so they may live their life by chosen authenticity. If you enjoyed this episode, please like subscribe and share with someone that could use a little zest in their life today. Keep the good energy going by following me Ericka bell on Instagram and LinkedIn @TheZestfulMovement. You're invited to sign up for our weekly newsletter that will help you become a part of ours Zesty Crew as you stay connected to the conversations. This will also allow you to gain access to some monthly special offerings created with you in mind. Go to Until next time, please do keep it Zesty!